Marvel boss regrets ‘whitewashing’ Asian character with Tilda Swinton casting

Maggie Baska May 20, 2021
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Tilda Swinton the ancient one marvel Doctor Strange

Marvel boss Kevin Feige has admitted he regrets whitewashing Tilda Swinton's The Ancient One character in the Doctor Strange movie. (Marvel)

Marvel boss Kevin Feige has admitted he regrets whitewashing The Ancient One in the Doctor Strange movie by casting Tilda Swinton as the historically Asian character.

After Swinton was announced to play The Ancient One in 2016’s Doctor Strange, Marvel came under fire for casting a white actress as a character that has been historically portrayed as an Asian male.

Marvel defended the casting at the time by saying it “regularly departs from stereotypes and source material” in the comics, and The Ancient One in the 2016 film was meant to be “Celtic”.

But Feige in new interview with Men’s Health, Feige admitted he now regrets the casting decision.

He said the filmmakers thought they were “being so smart and so cutting-edge” because they weren’t “going to do the cliche of the wizened, old, wise Asian man”.

“But it was a wake-up call to say ‘Well, wait a minute, is there any other way to figure it out? Is there any other way to both not fall into the cliche and cast an Asian actor?'” Feige said. “And the answer to that, of course, is yes.”

Doctor Strange screenwriter C Rober Cargill spoke to Double Toasted in a video interview in 2016. He said there is “no other character in Marvel history that is such a cultural landmine” as The Ancient One, who is Doctor Strange’s mentor.

Cargill said The Ancient One was a “racist stereotype who comes from a region of the world that is a very weird political place”.

Cargill said: “He originates from Tibet so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bull**** and risk the Chinese government going ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political’.”

In the recent Men’s Health interview, Feige then went on to talk about the upcoming Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which is set to be released in September. It will be the first Marvel film to feature an Asian actor as its lead superhero.

Feige said Shang-Chi has had the “potential for so long” to become a “cool movie or series of movies” regardless of “how famous the character was”. Shang-Chi will feature Kim’s Convenience star Simu Liu as the titular character alongside Awkwafina, Michelle Yeo and Florian Munteanu.



Related topics: marvel, tilda swinton

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